Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Main Characters In Eve Are The Ships

Incarna is supposedly appearing in 2011, concentrating on giving the avatars more personality - what we really want however is ships with more personality.

Look at the Millennium Falcon was a spice freighter, but it's through a lot it's been shot at, repaired at unlicensed facilities, upgraded, patched up, pushed beyond its limits, surfed an explosion and even vomited out by a giant space slug.

Or the USS Enterprise which went on it's 5 year mission, got beat around more than a few times, had some crazy scotsman work miracles to hold it together and push it beyond the limits, it eventually got upgraded just in time to deal with Vger, and later got the shit kicked out of it by the Reliant. After that Starfleet decided that repairing it was not economically viable so it was scheduled to be decomissioned only to have the former crew steal it and ultimately self destruct the vessel over the Genesis planet.

Don't you want that kind of history to be etched into the hull of your favourite ships?

So maybe it's time to completely redo the life cycle of ships to give them a real life, so here's a few ideas to think over.

1) Give Assembled Ships a Serial Number and Registration Date
I sold a noctis to some desperate pilot for 360million isk, at the time he had one of the first of the production line and for a few hours he could feel pretty pimp in his new ride. Now, there's nothing that betrays this fact I could build a noctis today and claim that this was one of the first, nobody would be able to prove otherwise. Similarly, maybe there's a ship collector who's prepared to pay a premium for a ship that was involved in some famous event, but again there's no way to prove this. So when a ship is assembled give it a unique serial number, and a date of registration, these will not be changeable, unless you repackaged the ship. Killmails would display these registration numbers as part of Concord's bookkeeping process, in space you'd be able to see the serial number of any ships on grid by doing a 'Show Info' on the vessel.
This simple feature would enable killboard developers to track individual ships, it would let people collect sightings of Supercaps, provide collectors with an unforgeable ship ID and even let Chribba realise when RMT'ers are selling the same titan again and again. (allegedly)

2) Add a combat log and travel log and other random statistics to ships
Sure, you could just use an external killboard to track kills in a specific ship, but I can't imagine it would be a huge technical stretch to add the same kill logs to the ships and make them visible inside the game. Similarly we could easily track systems visited by that ship in the same way that you can view systems visited by your character. And to satisfy the spreadsheet fans out there include all sorts of other numbers like 'Time spent in space', 'lifetime shield/armour/hull damage taken'.

3) Put all those logs in a black box which can be salvaged after destruction
The ships equivalent of a frozen corpse - either a memorial or a trophy, depending which side of the killmail you were on, the logs might even reveal important data on the victim's behaviour...

4) Long Term Wear And Tear
Ships in Eve can be restored to pristine status by on board modules, nothing ever wears out, well time to change that! The long term stresses due to combat will slowly wear out the shield emitters, power relays, thrusters, warp drives and general structure, internally the game will slowly apply penalties to the ship as daily use wears it out. Now, this means that used ships suddenly are no longer quite as good as new ships, so this in turn creates an actual reason for a used ship market to exist.
Now to offset this slow decline in your chariot of the gods you can take it in for servicing, where the engineers will take your ship into dry dock, take it apart and fix all those things that nanobots just can't deal with in deep space. This takes spare parts, time, and a facililty that's capable of building ships - the amount of time would be similar to the time taken to build the ship in the first place, but the material requirements would be along the line of 10% of the ship cost - now, owning a ship in the Eve universe costs money to keep it running, and maintaining those Titans is going to cost you about half a billion isk a month, after all it would be a shame if your jump bridge or Doomsday weapon failed to activate at an inopportune moment.
After the service it comes back almost as good as new, maybe, even better... I mean maybe you decide to pimp your ride a little more. Sure, you can put those fancy faction modules on your ship, but those can be unplugged at any time, no I'm talking about using the fancy Iridium plated fusion spike initiators as opposed to the plain old tungsten ones....

5) Only The Best For My Ride
So when you're getting your ship serviced you provide a pile of spare parts, which are of course built by players from blueprints, but for each type of spare part you have choices, you can use the designers recommended replacements, or you can save a bit of money and use cheaper bits and pieces which don't work quite so well, or last quite so long. Or you can blow money on fancier parts that eke out more performance. Installing these parts normally needs a complete strip down and rebuild of the ship, but, for those who are impatient we could make an exception for the ships coming straight from the factory. Upgraded spare parts could be added when the ship is assembled for the first time, before any rigs or modules are added, after that the only way to pimp the core ship would be as part of a maintenace service.

6) Packaged Ships = Factory Fresh
Anything that changes the core attributes of a ship, either making it better or worse cannot be stored once a ship is packaged, so if you want to sell a ship on the market it needs to be in pristine condition. This might mean you have to service a ship to bring it back to factory specs, but why bother, there's a contracts system that'll let you sell it 'as is'.
Indeed, with a decent customization system, it opens up the possibility of known ship builders who specialise in putting together ships which come with a bit of an edge out of the box.

7) Exterior Design
More options to personalise ships, alliance logs should be no problem, and you can put those notches on your nose every time you get a kill in that ship. It's not too much of a graphical stretch to add a ships name on the exterior, or the registration number if you've stuck with the default "CaldariCitizen376298's Ibis". And then there's the space dirt that makes your nice shiny Apocalypse look a little less shiny over time, or in the case of Minmatar ships, the rust decals start to peel off and have to be reapplied when your ship is serviced.
Sadly, for simple CPU/GPU load reasons other pilots may choose to disable these features and choose not to see your vessel in all its glory.

I'm sure there's more to this, but I come back to the core idea - ships need more personality and after Incarna is upon us it would be remiss if the ships of the Eve universe were nothing more than cookie cutter copies of each other.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Skye's Turning 6 Today

So, a perfect excuse to link some of her Eve related exploits.

So, we played around for a bit a couple of weeks ago - ratting in hi-sec and running some missions nothing you haven't seen before. Then she got in a rebellious mood and decided she didn't want to follow the autopilot markets, instead she picked a gate and even though I warder her that it would take her into low sec she wanted to go....

You have my permission to share this with any hi-sec carebears who think they can't survive outside of Concord's domain of guaranteed vengeance.

And for all the critics that seem to think the Skye is losing her childhood because she occasionally gets to fly a spaceship, here's Skye and Orion doing some colouring.

Best bit is at the 4 minute mark where the kids discuss the merits of the Rifter.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

No More Planetary Vehicles From GM (Gallente Motors)

The market for Planetary Vehicles in New Eden showed massive movement this week as a CCP Big Dumb Object revealed that the biggest single source of planetary vehicles in New Eden had stopped working since the start of the month.

No doubt all the production line workers are out joyriding in their shiny new noctii.

You see, Planetary Vehicles was one of the planet products that was most difficult to make, requiring Supertensile Plastics, Miniature Electronics and Mechanical Parts - made more expensive by the fact that Mechanical parts are in demand as a POS fuel and for making robotics. However there was never any need to do this because like most commodities that existed prior to the introduction of PI there were stockpiles to be eaten through first, but unlike other commodities the stockpiles showed no sign of depletion over the last 6 months. While many of the commodities were still dropped in small amounts by various mission structures there was one specific mission which would drop enough vehicles for a thousand joyriders, so with such an abundant supply, relatively low usage and complex production chain only a moron would spend time making them.

Now, that mission no longer drops these, and CCP has confirmed this is intentional the speculators have been out in force buying them up all over the cluster. The prices have gone from a few thousand to about thirty thousand isk, but this is still less than half the price you would expect based upon the cost of the input materials so while it's a big jump in cost for the planet industrialists it's still a bargain compared to producing them yourself.

However, I did some checking and managed to find a few missions that I knew dropped PI loot, and I can confirm that this loot nerf isn't just removing one giant drop from one mission, but it's a more pervasive change that may have removed all PI drops from missions. So while everyone has been panic buying Planetary Vehicles there has also been a lesser rush for Guidance Systems.

I think this may be backwards to be honest, Guidance systems are used in TII drone production in addition to it's place in PI production, so the net demand may be higer in the long run.

Not that it matters too much to me, I have large, cheap stocks of both ready to use/sell when the time comes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Noctis Economy

While the Noctis May be designed to operate in a vacuum the rush for its construction has not taken place in an economic vacuum. Many people looked at the new ship and saw profits in moving the BPO's to hi-sec and selling at a profit, industrialists looked at the market and knew they could make profit selling these ships.

But for many, the speculation didn't go further, and they missed out on many more ways to make money. The first thing is that those new ships needed fitting so there was an increased demand for Tractor Beams and Salvagers, but many newly minted Noctis pilots considered this an upgrade over their existing destroyer based salvage boat and simply moved the modules over. What they couldn't move over was the Salvage Rigs, and I made a handsome profit selling those rigs, and, on the back end, I placed buy orders for the destroyers at below mineral cost.

Mineral cost quickly became a big issue for the manufacturers, all the minerals showed a bump in prices and today Nocxium is now selling at 40% more than it was a week ago. It should have been obvious to anyone who looked at the BPO before its release that nocxium would be in demand, since this ship contains a much higher proportion of this mineral compared to other ships. Smart speculators would have acquired a stockpile a couple of weeks ago and sold it for a handsome profit once the demand started picking up.

I'd like to say I anticipated the mineral market but even my stockpiles got eaten up quickly after I decided to manufacture from multiple prints in parallel. Instead, I ran the numbers and started buying up battleships and reprocessing them for minerals, for nocxium I was able to buy up large numbers of mining crystals, shield boosters and other nocxium rich items to make up the shortfall and keep my production lines running and profitable. So, of course, the prices of ships are now rising to keep in line with the mineral basket, and somewhat amusingly, the cost of running a mining fleet has risen slightly as there are no more cheap crystals available.

Not that the average miner will notice, after all they think the minerals they mine are free.

Friday, December 3, 2010

3 Incursion Releases, 3 Names.

Playing through the new release, I'm deeply happy with the work that has been done by CCP and the contributions of the player base. (I'm also quite happy to have made billions, but that's another story). However with the actual Incursions of the name still a month a way I feel that the name need reconsidering to reflect this - here's my proposal for release names:

Incursion 1.0: "Excellence" - because this release represents a tangible manifestation of CCP's much touted 'Commitement To Excellence'. I committed to making obscene profits from the noctis rush and the related market movements.

Incursion 1.1: "Emancipation" - No More learning skills! Noobs are now free from the needs to waste their early days training learning skills, the vets no longer feel nagging guilt about not raising their advanced skills to 5. Free SP to spend on training for new toys, industrialists will make a killing selling new toys. Pirates will no doubt catch some extra tears as new toys get turned into wrecks.

Incursion 1.2: "Invasion" - Sansha Claus finally arrives and hopefully starts killing macrominers. Invasion is a way better name than Incursion, just because a dev accidently leaked the name doesn't mean that the marketdroids need to change the name.